Richard Stallman Proposes Ceasing Of Data Collection To Safeguard Privacy And Anonymity

Richard Stallman Data Privacy

The aftermath of Facebook CA scandal has attracted several comments and criticism from common people and prominent figures alike.

Now Richard Stallman, the man behind GNU project and free software movement, has shared his views in a column on The Guardian on restoring privacy through stricter regulations for data accumulation.

The American programmer and activist, widely recognized for his strong opinions and bold statements, believes that data privacy can be achieved by implementation of rules on a “broader and deeper” level.

This means restricting the surveillance activity of systems, not limited to Facebook, and regulation of data collected by them.

According to him, “a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.”

Citing an example of the digital payment card system by London Transport, Stallman criticized the unnecessary tracking of traveling activities of thousands of commuters on a daily basis.

He proposed that such systems should not be allowed to identify passengers, rather they should accept privacy-respecting cash from passengers without tracking them.

Talking about his stand on protecting user privacy, he referred to GNU Taler which has been designed to protect payer anonymity but identifies payees to prevent tax dodging. Stallman advised digital payment systems to implement such methods to preserve anonymity.

On the security front, he supports recording of visuals through video cameras in public areas for keeping a check on crime. But he strongly opposed authorizing remote viewing without physical collection of the recording.

Aiming at EU, Richard Stallman said that its General Data Protection Regulation is incapable of protecting privacy because “its rules are too lax.”

Apparently, the GDPR regulations allow collection of any data if it is somehow useful to the system. System designers easily come up with ways to make their spying activities and collection of data as something “useful.”

Rephrasing Noam Chomsky, he said that companies have become expert at “manufacturing consent,” manipulating users into giving their consent for permitting data harvesting activities.

Users who consent to a site’s terms without reading it, also contribute to this mess. To be fair, the terms and conditions of any website or app are incomprehensible to most of the humans.

Even though his ideas seem utopian, but Stallman does have a point that tech corporations are intruding more than they should and that should be changed.

What are your opinions? Let us know in the comments below!

Also Read: Google And Amazon File Creepy Patents That Can Further “Sniff” Your Conversations

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